WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces the following hearing on the nominations of Mr. John Bryson, to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Mr. Terry Garcia, to be Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Please note the hearing will also be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website at http://commerce.senate.gov. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to view the webcast.
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Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IVU.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
WASHINGTON, D.C.—We have two distinguished nominees before us today. First is John Bryson of California. Mr. Bryson is nominated to be the next Secretary of Commerce. Our second nominee, Terry Garcia of Florida, is nominated to be the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce.
Much of the conversation today is going to focus on Mr. Bryson, who has a varied and impressive resume and a background running a utility company. That background is more important than ever.
But some have raised concerns about Mr. Bryson’s experience as a founding member of an environmental advocacy organization that has, at times, used very aggressive tactics, including suing Mr. Bryson and his company. Others have raised concerns about his support for a 2009 proposal to cap emissions, which was a position widely held in the utility industry, but a bill I opposed. That said, I had a productive and positive meeting with Mr. Bryson last week when he visited my office, and I have great respect for his desire to serve our country. I believe he has the capacity to restore jobs and manufacturing in America.
The nominations of Mr. Bryson and Mr. Garcia come at an important crossroads for the country and for the Commerce Department. With high unemployment and a slow economic recovery, the Commerce Secretary and Deputy Secretary play a big role in supporting jobs and our economy. If confirmed, they would have a steep challenge.
I have long fought for a stronger manufacturing sector in this country. Manufacturing has been hit hard over the last decade—losing nearly one-third of its workforce—and the government’s response has been piecemeal.
This needs to change. If the next decade is as bad for manufacturing jobs as the previous one, we will have little left of the sector to save. This has grave national security implications and could cripple our ability to out-innovate and out-compete other countries.
This year, the Commerce Committee held two hearings on this issue. Next week, I am holding a field hearing in West Virginia on exporting products made in America. For the foreseeable future, I intend to use this committee to find ways to make manufacturing a spark in our job-creation agenda.
Finally, the Commerce Department is responsible for much more than promoting American businesses. For example, almost two-thirds of the Department’s budget is dedicated to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I want to hear about Mr. Bryson’s views on the Administration’s reorganization proposal, NOAA’s weather satellites, and the Department’s cybersecurity efforts.
I look forward to hearing from both our nominees today.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.
I have the distinct pleasure today to introduce to the committee John Bryson, a former Chairman, CEO and President of Edison International—and most importantly, a Californian.
On May 31, John was nominated by President Obama to serve as the 37th Secretary of Commerce. I believe John is enormously well-suited for this important role, particularly at a time when our economy remains fragile and job creation isn’t occurring fast enough.
John’s experience running a multi-billion-dollar company, his success as a strong advocate for business, and his readiness to advance a jobs agenda make him a perfect fit for Commerce Secretary.
I first got to know John when he was CEO of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, which provides power to 14 million Californians and nearly 300,000 businesses.
As the committee will recall, in 2000 and 2001 California was gripped by an energy crisis that resulted in rolling blackouts that left millions of Californians in the dark.
During that difficult time, John’s company was under siege. I watched closely as he successfully fended off financial disaster even as other California utilities were swept into bankruptcy.
I met and spoke with John often during that energy crisis and remember well his intelligence and pragmatism as utilities, state officials and Washington worked our way through this crisis.
In my observation, he worked hard for the people of California, his shareholders and the many businesses that relied on a stable power grid.
I believe John will carry this same thoughtful, sensible leadership style with him to the Commerce Department.
During his years at Edison International, I witnessed John’s leadership up close.
Candidly, I found him to be very protective of his company. Edison International, headquartered in Southern California, owned many coal-fired power plants in the Midwest, and as a result John was an aggressive advocate for the coal industry.
I believe that John will carry that same style of leadership to the Commerce Department. Put simply, John understands what businesses need to succeed and will bring that approach to the department if confirmed.
In addition to his time at Edison, John has served as director, chairman or advisor for a wide array of companies, schools and nonprofit organizations, including many institutions with deep roots in California, such as:
- The Walt Disney Company, BrightSource Energy, Boeing, and the asset manager KKR;
- The California Business Roundtable, the Public Policy Institute of California and USC’s Keck School of Medicine;
- The Council on Foreign Relations, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and the California Endowment.
I’m also proud to note that John and I share the same alma mater—Stanford University—where John earned his undergraduate degree. Later John attended Yale Law School before returning to California.
John’s experience paints a picture of a leader who focuses on the practical and the achievable. I believe if confirmed he will support measures that meet those criteria.
At this time in our economic history, our number one priority as a government must be to grow the economy and get people back to work. I know my colleagues on this Committee agree.
In my view, John Bryson’s combination of pragmatism, experience in the board room and understanding of the public sector will make him an outstanding Commerce Secretary.
I expect he will be a powerful voice inside the Administration and a partner with the business community to grow our economy and open international markets for American manufacturers.
I thank the Committee for your time and the opportunity to speak today.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. John Brysonto be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce
Mr. Terry Garciato be Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce